He arrived today.

He arrived.

Could we call adverb today as an adverbial adjunct because it still complete the meaning of sentence without it?

  • 1
    No: "today" is a pronoun. Adjuncts only occur in clause structure, so you don't need the word "adverbial". In your example, "today" is a noun phrase functioning as an adjunct of temporal location. – BillJ Mar 21 '19 at 7:34
  • @BillJ according to ODE, the lexeme today is either a noun or adverb. In the example quoted above, it is an adverb in terms of lexical category. – Lynnyo Mar 21 '19 at 8:41
  • 1
    @Lynnyo Yes, it does, but then we never use dictionaries for grammar! Items like "today", "yesterday", "tomorrow" etc. belong in the pronoun class. Thus "today" is best analysed as an adjunct of temporal location realised by an NP with a deictic pronoun as head. – BillJ Mar 21 '19 at 9:50

Today functions as an adverb of time, telling when he arrived. Dictionaries usually present today as an adverb. That's the most straightforward analysis.

If you wanted, you can call an adverb an adverbial, and describe it as an adjunct that provides additional information to the sentence. Oxford Dictionaries explains the respective terms in ways that allow this analysis. (Adverbs are also considered adverbials; as adjuncts they provide extra information,) The result is that it treats a very similar word (yesterday) in a similar sentence (She visited ... yesterday) as an adverbial adjunct:

Adverbial adjuncts can provide extra information about: (...)

when things happen: (...)

  • I can’t sleep at night.

  • She visited her family yesterday.

So yes, you can call today, like yesterday in the previous example, an adverbial adjunct.

There are also other explanations for what's going on here. Some guides like The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (CGEL) analyze today, yesterday, and related words as pronouns (link is to StackExchange answer on subject), and would describe this as a noun phrase used as an adjunct of temporal location. The result is similar to calling it an "adverbial adjunct," but CGEL goes to such lengths to better account for cases where today is clearly not functioning as an adverb.

| improve this answer | |
  • +1 for the scholarship involved in showing that different authorities analyse the situation in different ways. It's interesting that you class CGEL as a 'guide'. – Edwin Ashworth May 22 '19 at 13:24

The term adverb refers to a lexical category while the term adverbial adjunct denotes a syntactic role. The difference is that between categories and (syntactic) functions (which is elaborated in detail in ch.1 of the bulk volume the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language)

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.